Series Preview: The Cubs

Current record: 20-24, 4th place in NL Central, 5.0 games back

Up Next: Chicago Cubs, 15-29, 6th place in NL Central, 10.0 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: First baseman Bryan LaHair is making the most of his first chance at regular playing time. He leads the team with 10 HR and a 1.020 OPS. Speedster Tony Campana and his twelve stolen bases have taken over CF since Marlon Byrd was traded to Boston. Carlos Marmol was almost removed from the closer role before going on the DL with a hamstring strain. The Cubs top three catchers (Geovany Soto, Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo) are all hurt right now.

Familiar Faces: Paul Maholm

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Ryan Dempster (0-2, 47.1 IP, 44 K, 2.28 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (2-2, 37.2 IP, 33 K, 4.78 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

Dempster has pitched much better than his 0-2 record. He’s in line to be the Cubs’ All-Star and then traded at the deadline. The trade for A.J. Burnett keeps looking better and better.

Saturday: LH Paul Maholm (4-3, 45.2 IP, 27 K, 4.73 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-5, 46.0 IP, 16 K, 4.50 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

In his first season for the Cubs, Maholm is pitching as well as he usually did for the Pirates. Correia’s WHIP is pretty good, but that’s the only stat of his that looks nice.

Sunday: RH Matt Garza (2-2, 48.1 IP, 43 K, 3.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (2-5, 46.0 IP, 48 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)

Garza has also been the subject of trade rumors but he’s likely to be kept around unless someone gives the Cubs a real sweetheart deal. Bedard tries to right himself after two shaky starts since his back spasms.

No lineups yet.

Mets Wrap Up

Scores:
Monday: 5-4 Win vs NY Mets. Three late runs win it. Box score.
Tuesday: 3-2 Loss vs NY Mets. Can’t solve the knuckler. Box score.
Wednesday: 3-1 Loss vs NY Mets. Only 1 run for the 9th time. Box score.

Season Record: 20-24, 4th place in NL Central, 5.0 games back

Notes: Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison were pretty much the whole show this series. I have nothing else good to say about the offense at this time. In two starts since his back spasms, Erik Bedard‘s totals are 11 IP, 8 ER, 12 H, 4 BB and 11 K’s. He hadn’t given up more than 2 ER in any of six pre-injury outings. If his next start continues the current trend the team may want to skip Bedard when his turn comes up again. The bullpen was stellar, allowing only 1 ER, 4 H and 3 BB with 11 K in 8 IP.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh  AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB     AVG     OBP
Harrison, RF-SS 12 3 4 0 0 1 3 0.333 0.333
Walker, 2B 12 1 2 0 0 5 3 0.167 0.167
McCutchen, A, CF 11 1 4 4 0 3 5 0.364 0.333
Barmes, SS 8 1 3 1 1 1 4 0.375 0.400
Alvarez, 3B 8 1 2 1 0 2 5 0.250 0.250
Tabata, LF-RF 8 1 1 0 1 2 2 0.125 0.222
Barajas, C 8 0 1 0 0 4 2 0.125 0.125
McGehee, 1B 6 0 0 0 1 2 3 0.000 0.143
Jones, G, 1B 5 0 0 0 0 3 1 0.000 0.000
McKenry, C 4 1 1 2 0 2 3 0.250 0.250
Navarro, 3B 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 0.250 0.250
Hernandez, Go, LF 4 0 0 0 1 2 1 0.000 0.200
McDonald, J, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Bedard, P 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
McLouth, LF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 96 9 20 8 4 31 34 0.208 0.235

Batting
Doubles (8): Harrison 3 (6), McCutchen, A (8), Alvarez (7), Walker (6), Barajas (6), Tabata (7)
Triples (1): Harrison (2)
HomeRuns (1): McKenry (3)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen (8)

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (9)
Double Plays: (Barmes-Walker-McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER  BB  SO  HR    ERA   WHIP
McDonald, J 7.0 4 1 1 2 8 0 1.29 0.86
Morton (L, 2-5) 7.0 8 3 3 0 1 0 3.86 1.14
Bedard 5.0 6 4 4 3 4 0 7.20 1.80
Resop 2.7 1 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 0.75
Grilli 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan (S, 10) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Lincoln 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J (W, 1-0) 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 2.00
Watson 0.7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Cruz, J (L, 1-1) 0.7 2 2 1 1 2 0 13.50 4.50
  Totals 27.0 22 10 9 8 24 0 3.00 1.11

Transactions: Traded Drew Sutton to Tampa Bay Rays for cash. Activated RHP Jason Grilli from the Bereavement List. Optioned LHP Jeff Locke to AAA.

Series Preview: The Mets

Current record: 19-22, 3rd place in NL Central, 3.0 games back

Up Next: New York Mets, 22-19, 4th place in NL East, 5.5 games back

Season Series: 0-0, First time playing.

Notes: The Mets come to the ‘Burgh for the only time this season. New York features a decent offense and below average pitching staff. If the Pirates can get to the Mets’ bullpen early they stand a good chance to win some games.

Familiar Faces: Ronny Cedeno, Jason Bay (DL), Miguel Batista (DL).

Probable Pitchers
Monday: LH Johan Santana (1-2, 43.2 IP, 46 K, 2.89 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (2-5, 41.0 IP, 44 K, 3.07 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)

Santana has been very effective this year, but has not been able to go deep into games. Bedard’s numbers have been slowly creeping up after his stellar start.

Tuesday: RH R.A. Dickey (5-1, 50.1 IP, 40 K, 3.75 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (3-2, 50.1 IP, 50 K, 2.68 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Hopefully the knuckler won’t be knuckling, or the Pirates’ free-swing ways could doom them here. J-Mac took a no-no into the sixth inning in his last start.

Wednesday: LH Jon Niese (2-2, 42.2 IP, 39 K, 4.85 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
vs. RH Charlie Morton (2-4, 39.1 IP, 24 K, 4.35 ERA, 1.47 WHIP)

I have nothing to say about Jon Niese. Totally non-descript pitcher. I guess he’s lefthanded though. That’s something.

No lineups yet.

Presley Optioned, Meek Recalled

In a surprising move, OF Alex Presley was just optioned down to AAA. RHP Evan Meek has been recalled from AAA to take his place on the roster. Presley has been struggling at the plate and has spent much of the past week on the bench. The Pirates likely feel that some time in the minors may help him regain the form that got him to the majors last year.

The main impetus of the move however, is likely the need for another pitcher. The pitching staff has been taxed lately — going extra innings on Sunday, having Brad Lincoln fill in for Eric Bedard on Monday, and Kevin Correia not getting out of the fourth inning last night. The Pirates don’t have another off day until Thursday the 24th. I’d expect a bat to be brought up for this weekend’s Interleague series against Detroit.

Series Preview: The Nationals

Note: The series recap for the Marlins series will be combined with the series recap for this Nationals series so that the data will have a broader base.

Current record: 17-19, 3rd place in NL Central, 4.0 games back

Up Next: Washington Nationals, 22-14, 2nd place in NL East, 0.5 games back

Season Series: The Pirates took 2 out of 3 against the Nationals last week.

The top two pitching staffs in the NL face off tonight in Washington as the Pirates and Nationals conclude their season series. The Pirates go against the two starters they missed in the three game set last week. Bryce Harper hit his first two major league home runs in his last two games. Catcher Wilson Ramos was just lost for the season with a torn ACL. Closer Henry Rodriguez has been shaky and may be pulled from the role.

Probable Pitchers
Wednesday: LH Erik Bedard (2-4, 35.0 IP, 37 K, 2.57 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)
vs. LH Gio Gonzalez (4-1, 41.1 IP, 50 K, 1.94 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

Bedard returns to action after only lasting one inning in his start against the Nationals last week. Gonzalez is finally showing consistancy to go along with his talent.

Thursday: RH James McDonald (2-2, 44.2 IP, 39 K, 2.42 ERA, 1.03 WHIP)
vs. RH Jordan Zimmermann (2-3, 46.1 IP, 32 K, 2.14 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)

Very similar lines for the two young righties.

Tonight’s lineup:
Jose Tabata RF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Casey McGehee 1B
Yamaico Navarro LF
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Josh Harrison
Erik Bedard P

Astros Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 1-0 Loss vs Houston. Great pitching, no clutch hitting. Box score.
Saturday: 5-2 Win vs Houston. Good team win. Box score.
Sunday: 3-2 Win vs Houston. Tie in the ninth, win in extras. Box score.

Season Record: 16-18, 3rd place in NL Central, 4 games back

Notes: With any offensive execution at all on Friday this could have been a sweep. It has become commonplace to say that the pitching is carrying the team, but four earned runs in three games is excellent for any team in any league. Big kudos to James McDonald, Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett and the entire bullpen. Two names carried the hitting: Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata. Both happen to be signed to long term deals. Neil Walker looks very nice in the two-hole. I think it suits his talents better than cleanup. Much-maligned Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes combined to go 5 for 14 (.294) this weekend. I used to love Nate McLouth, but I just don’t see what he has left as a hitter right now. Pinch hitting him for Casey McGehee in the ninth inning yesterday made no sense to me. Every position player got at least four at bats this weekend. The only players not used were Brad Lincoln, Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard, the next three starting pitchers.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh  AB  R    H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB    AVG     OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 12 1 5 2 1 3 4 0.417 0.462
Tabata, LF-RF 12 3 3 1 1 2 4 0.250 0.308
Walker, 2B 11 1 2 1 0 2 0 0.182 0.167
Alvarez, 3B 10 1 2 1 1 7 2 0.200 0.250
Barajas, C-1B 7 0 3 0 0 0 0 0.429 0.429
Barmes, SS 7 1 2 1 0 2 0 0.286 0.250
McLouth, LF 6 0 0 0 0 3 6 0.000 0.000
McGehee, 1B 5 1 0 0 3 2 3 0.000 0.375
Navarro, RF 5 0 0 0 0 1 5 0.000 0.000
Harrison, SS 4 0 1 1 0 0 0 0.250 0.250
McKenry, C 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 0.000 0.200
Presley, PH-LF 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 0.000 0.000
Jones, G, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.000 0.000
Morton, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P, PH 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
 Totals 97 8 18 7 7 29 32 0.186 0.234

Batting
Doubles (6): Barajas (4), Alvarez (5), Walker 2 (5), McCutchen, A (7), Barmes (8)
Triples (2): Tabata 2 (2)
HomeRuns (2): McCutchen, A (3), Tabata (2)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen, A (6), McGehee (1)
CS: McCutchen, A (3)
PO: Harrison

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (8), Burnett (1)
Double Plays: (Alvarez-Walker-Jones), (Navarro-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker-McGehee), (McGehee-Harrison-Burnett), (McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ 8.0 6 2 2 0 4 0 2.25 0.750
McDonald, J (L, 2-2) 8.0 4 1 1 2 8 0 1.13 0.750
Morton (W, 2-3) 6.0 7 2 1 1 0 0 1.50 1.333
Watson (H, 3)(W, 3-0) 2.7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.000
Cruz, J (S, 3) 2.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.500
Grilli 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.000
Hanrahan 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 1.000
Hughes, J 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.000
Resop (H, 3) 0.3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 3.000
 Totals 30.0 19 5 4 5 16 0 1.20 0.800

 

Transaction: Activated Joel Hanrahan from the Bereavement List. Placed Daniel McCutchen on the 15-day DL with a left oblique strain suffered in batting practice.

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